All posts by Phyllis Ershowsky

My Inspired Experience Interning for PKE Marketing and PR Solutions

By: Sherona Edwards

As a student at Florida Gulf Coast University (Go Eagles!) entering into my senior year, this past semester has been one of the most challenging semesters I’ve ever gone through.  But, it was well worth it. Being that I was a transfer student I can happily say that I successfully completed my first year at FGCU with high honors. Throughout the year I was able to meet new people and learn from amazing teachers. They were the ones who brought me out of my shy quiet shell; I did not know anyone but they pushed me to go out and meet new people. By doing so I was able to network with people in my major and make connections allowing me to land an awesome internship with PKE Marketing and PR Solutions.

When starting my internship I must admit that I was a bit nervous. Being that this was my first internship ever, I didn’t know what to expect and I felt like the “jitters” were getting the best of me.  However, once I entered into my internship on May 9, 2013, I felt my nervous jitters slowly fading away and a sense of happiness and calm spread over me. When I walked through the door of PKE the first person to greet me was my internship supervisor and the principal of PKE Marketing and PR Solutions, Mrs. Phyllis Ershowsky.  To me, Mrs. Phyllis is a sweet, gentle, caring soul who is also fluent and well versed in her career field. After giving me a tour around the office and making me feel more comfortable and at ease we had the chance to sit down and tell each other a little more about ourselves. I must say that while listening to her share some of the amazing experiences she’s had throughout her career, I was honored to have Mrs. Phyllis as my Internship supervisor. Through her guidance I knew that I would be able to effectively grow in the PR field.

The next person that I met was PKE ‘s public relations & marketing coordinator, Kate Walter. To be honest, Kate is one of those rare, “one in a million”, PR geniuses whom despite being young in the field of PR, definitely knows her craft. Being able to communicate with Kate about PR and whether I should continue my education once I earn my bachelor’s degree, inspired me to take the next steps in furthering my education. By listening to and observing Kate, I now know that if you focus and concentrate, you can successfully execute your plans to reach whatever goals you desire, no excuses.

Now, after having the opportunity to be mentored by two amazing PR professionals at the same time, I feel that the bar has been set high when the time comes for me to join the workforce and embark into my desired field of public relations. My standards are set, my plans written and there is no allotted room for excuses. In PR terms, “I’ve determined my objectives and I’m ready to implement my strategies in order to accomplish my goals.”

My Experience with Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

This past semester PKE Marketing & PR Solutions was fortunate to have Caroline Lennox, a Florida Gulf Coast University student, as our intern. Caroline spent three months working directly on client projects and gaining real-world experience. I asked her to write a blog entry on any topic she thought was interesting and related to the work that she’d accomplished in public relations. I hope you enjoy her blog post as much as I did.



My Experience with Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

By: Caroline Lennox

When I learned I would be working at Susan G Komen Race for the Cure helping the media, I had no idea what to expect. I was excited, knowing that I would see how everything happens behind the scenes at a big event like this. Being an intern, I expected to be doing small things like talking with potential interviewees or finding breast cancer survivors who would be interested in being interviewed.  I never imagined I would be working right with the news stations helping with interviews and more. I was directly involved in placing people to be on air.  Setting them up with WINK News and NBC-2 was intimidating, but exciting at the same time.  It’s such an awesome feeling watching a live interview and knowing that I helped make that happen. That was a special moment for me and it made me realize I’d chosen the right career path.

Komen logo

I spent the whole day coordinating interviews, taking pictures to be posted on social media sites and also newspaper websites and helping direct people at the finish line. Being able to watch the setup before the race and also the aftermath gave me an interesting view of how the event is run.  I came to appreciate all those people who spent their time setting up all the tables, chairs, tents and other items before the race began. They had to turn right around and take things down at the end of the day.  Being behind the scenes is eye opening in a way, as I saw so much more than I would have if I’d just volunteered or ran in the 5k race. Meeting the executive director and other Komen staff members and seeing how the whole event is run from their perspective is intense. So much time and effort goes into planning the event that happens once a year, but it takes a full year to plan it out perfectly so nothing goes wrong. It was an amazing event and experience to partake in as a young college student. Hopefully, that won’t be the last Komen event that I engage in as a PR person.

Komen Race 2013

The PR Life: One Perfect Work Day

Under the category “better late than never,” I decided to spend one whole work day following the rules I have been reading about for years.  And you know what?  This stuff really works – I had a delightfully fulfilling and creative day.  And all it took was listening to expert advice and acting accordingly!  Here’s what I did: Continue reading The PR Life: One Perfect Work Day

How’s your mental health?

We have all become used to news updates, warnings and helpful tips on physical fitness, but how often do we think about our mental fitness? Probably not too often.  But with National Depression Education and Awareness Week taking place now, this might be a good time to evaluate how you cope with stress, and to consider whether or not you are exhibiting signs of depression.

Continue reading How’s your mental health?

From the PR Perspective: 5 Highlights of the Perfect Relationship

If you are in the business of marketing and/or public relations, you understand the value of building and nurturing relationships.

For most of us, five to seven years is the average longevity of the client/PR practitioner engagement — businesses change and grow, people move on and circumstances change. It’s always a little sad, but new opportunities come along and we begin anew.  For my practice, the best example is a client whom I have worked with for more than 11 years…a PR “love story” of sorts that started before the company’s birth and ends now more than a decade later as the company finalizes its sale to a larger corporate entity.

Continue reading From the PR Perspective: 5 Highlights of the Perfect Relationship

Father’s Day from a PR Perspective: Four Things I Learned from my Dad

Although my earliest career goals included teacher, veterinarian and newspaper reporter (like Lois Lane), looking back on it now, I was surely in training to be a Public Relations professional.  Some of that training included learning how to speak like an adult from the time I was very small, introducing people to each other when I thought it would be mutually beneficial, and finding the positive side of almost every situation.  With Father’s Day approaching,  I have to thank my Dad for teaching me four very important things that have remained essential to my professional life – I hope these nuggets will help you in yours!



1. Read, read, read!  I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of the bedtime story from day one.  That led to early reading and a never-ending reading list provided by both my parents .  They had an excellent repertoire that included the classics, great literature, history, current events and popular culture.  I followed their  lead, and still do, reading anything I can get my eyes on.  Of course, this has helped in my career- not only reading public relations-related books and journals, but extending to novels and poetry that inspire creativity. You never know what you will pick up while you are reading.

 2. Write it down! My Dad is one of the greatest unknown writers of all time.  No, he hasn’t published the Great American Novel or even the Great American short story, but he has written consistently and well his entire life.  Letters to the editor, letters to his children and grandchildren, articles in his community newspaper — all evoking deep emotions, strong opinions or family stories he prefers to write about rather than share out loud.  Yes, he’s a quiet person – but you can learn a lot from his writings.  So whether it’s a hereditary trait or something learned, writing well has always been a priority in my world.  Even though texting and tweeting are part of our everyday lives, remember to keep writing in full sentences as well.


3. Listen! Most of us in the field of public relations love to talk…a lot.  There’s always so much going on, so much to share, it’s hard to contain ourselves.  My Dad has always been very quiet, but a really good listener – I know that because he can repeat conversations we had 30 years ago.  I have learned from him that it’s good to let the other person talk sometimes and to really hear what they are saying.  This is especially important with our clients because we must listen intently to grasp the true meaning of their vision  – and we have to understand that vision in order to communicate it to others.  So this one is really important.



4. Embrace a strong work ethic! In my Dad’s day he came out of the army and worked for the same company for 45 years, retiring with the gold watch and everything that goes with it.  I have had three positions over the span of my career and I have read that many people can expect to change jobs an estimated seven times. No matter what your tenure is, I have learned from my Dad to perform beyond expectations, to respect deadlines and to follow up and follow through.


As you reflect on Father’s Day, I hope you have learned as much from your Dad as I have from mine.  Please write in and let us know what you’ve learned. Happy Father’s Day!


PR Reflections: Learn with ardor

Abigail Adams said, “Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Even more than 200 years later, her words resonate – especially in today’s world where messages and impressions continuously surge around us but  may never be absorbed nor applied.  From a public relations point of view, real learning takes place when we internalize and process information and then use it to enhance organizations’ relationships and reputations among their publics. There are five specific actions we can easily incorporate into our daily PR lives to ensure that we “learn with ardor”:









That means as much as you can of every genre. For me, the single most important way to learn is to read: newspapers, blogs, lifestyle magazines,  industry journals and novels.  Yes, novels!  (See Anne Kreamer’s Jan. 2012 blog post). You never know where the next creative idea will come from – often a single word or powerful image can open the door to a new way of thinking (if you let it!)









Did you ever watch the TV show, “House”?  Just when it seems that all is lost and there will be no diagnosis for the mystery illness, Dr. House grasps on to a nugget of conversation that lights up his synapses and solves the problem — lives are saved! While your results might not be as extraordinary, you can still learn a tremendous amount by truly listening to others around you.  This is your opportunity to garner knowledge from other people’s experiences and expertise, and use it to help yourself and others.










Step away from your desk and look at the world around you.  I just read a NYT article about the lost art of conversation — sad but true.  So often our heads are down, our eyes focused on our little screens, that we can miss both the simplicity of a friendly conversation and the huge, amazing things happening right in front of us. Look around and take it all in – you’ll get more out of life and have more to talk about!










Even if you’ve taken the time to listen, and lifted your head to observe, there may be still more to learn. Develop your sense of curiosity, that urge to know more, and take it to a higher level.  Ask the questions that come to mind, or look for further details online, or even walk through the doors of a library.  Take, for example – you can learn a great deal about your family history by visiting the website.  Even better is when the featured celebrity on “Who Do You Think You Are”  actually visit a library. That’s when they dig deeper into real documentation, perusing the archived records that bring their pasts alive and make them meaningful.










Back to Abigail Adams quote, connecting is the key to attending to your learning with diligence.  All those precious morsels you’ve gathered by reading, listening and observing will just float freely through your imagination if you don’t find a way to corral them and use them purposefully.  The best way we can use our information in the field of public relations is to apply our new knowledge to help someone else.  Have you read about a technology advancement that you can pass on to one of your clients to make their business run more smoothly?  Or did you hear someone discussing an upcoming seminar that would help a business associate further his/her career? Perhaps you’ve just met the perfect collaborator for your next venture — and your next learning opportunity.

What have you learned  lately that you would like to share?  We would love to hear about it here!

Looking forward to your comments.


Happy learning!






New Year, New Day, New Ideas

Starting a New Year opens the door to a fresh start, but in the world of public relations, we are always on the cusp of something new, no matter what the calendar says.  To remain valuable to our clients, we must always be among the first to gather, process and present new information – seeking out what is relevant, helpful and informative should be second nature.  And that’s what I love about this profession… Continue reading New Year, New Day, New Ideas

A Taste of the Sweet Life

Deliciously handcrafted by Royal Palm Chocolates

One of the best parts about being a PR professional is getting to know a wonderful variety of people and discovering their passions along the way.  Over the past few weeks, I have devoted a lot of time to “new client immersion” with Royal Palm Chocolates of Naples, Fla., owners Philip and Stephanie Fincher and their strategic manager, Sam Hernandez.  How to describe this experience?  In a word: sweet!

Continue reading A Taste of the Sweet Life

As a PR Pro, Do You Have a Seat at the Table?

Excerpts from my 8/8/11 blog post from Florida Public Relations Association’s 2011 Annual Conference: What CEOs Want and Need from PR – presentation by Angela Buonocore, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, ITT Corporation


Monday Speakers (1)
Monday Speakers (8)

Do you have purpose and passion for what you do?  Do you have a seat at the table?  Angela Buonocore has more than 32 years experience in communications for major corporations and is still excited to wake up in the morning and go to work every day.  She says we should all feel that way – the PR profession is extremely exciting and that’s why we’ve chosen it.The lessons Angela shared with us can be applied wherever you are in the organization, although your goal should be to work for the CEO.

She says, “If you’re not working for the CEO now, I hope it is your goal to do that.  I always wanted to sit in the executive suite.”

When she started her career In 1979, that was a pipe dream, but women have come a long way. As communications professionals, we have to strive to sit in the executive offices at the round table.

So how do you earn your seat at that table?

First, Angela shared a bit of history about ITT Corporation and the equity in the brand. She joined in 2007 after her tenure at Pepsi and is thrilled about this job and the diversity of products from pumps to break pads for cars, high-speed trains and more.

In January 2011, ITT announced they are splitting into three.  This has been a most interesting experience and she is proud of how she and her PR team used the history news hook to enhance the story. The firm’s history of splitting businesses and making them work became the story. Other companies have since announced splits, but ITT is mentioned in every story.  Angela is delighted about starting the trend.

Her road to the top provides her with the credibility to tell us about achieving a seat at the table. During the 30+ years, she has been a student of what works – not just when it comes to communications.

Angela’s advice?

If you find something you love, stick with it.

From the beginning, Angela has been a viewer of tables and seating arrangements.  When you join a company, first become a good observer of how things work because they don’t work the same way in any two companies.  Ask questions, interrogate.

Her mother used to say, “Here comes the questioner.”

Once she asks questions to several different parties, she triangulates the information.

As communicators, many of us with journalism backgrounds, we are the best detectives. Understand the who, what, when, why, where – apply what you’ve learned and figure out how you get ahead.

Gather your information but don’t hoard it. She used to love hoarding it because Knowledge is Power.  But it’s important to share what you learn – you get satisfaction, help build teams, and later on you may need help doing something.
If you haven’t been a player on a team, people don’t share with you.

What influences the function’s seat?  How well is the function perceived?  In a company you have to look at where communications sits. It doesn’t always have to report to the CEO, but if it does, you know he/she thinks it’s just as important as accounting, manufacturing, all high levels of the organization.

Understand the responsibilities – how well do we establish vision and direction?  Both in the division in which we work, and in the more elevated version as the lynchpin in developing the company.

How does the CEO tell the same consistent message that will resonate with different constituencies – shareholders and employees alike.  How do you deliver those messages?  ITT’s CEO looks to Angela to do that and we must ask ourselves these questions.

Focus & Results
An important characteristic is the drive for results. Getting the results is critical.

Like Pepsi, you have to be focused on the big win.  How do you get it done?

You must also know what the CEO is thinking when it concerns the big win – he/she is not thinking of the big news release.  The CEO is thinking about the money.  What is the ROI?  If our function is thought of as overhead, we better show results.

Angela always asks her team,  “How are these communications objectives going to drive the business?”  If you can’t answer that, it’s problematic.

A great communicator has to be a great businessperson.  And the very first thing you have to do is learn as much as you can about that business.

Ability to drive changes
We need to look and see what needs to be changed – and what doesn’t.  There is always opportunity for continuous improvement.

For people who drive change, communicators have the skills. Words are very powerful – if they are delivered in the right way, they can inspire, put fear into people,  or incent people to change things.  It’s not just explaining what we have to do, they want to understand why – what is the rationale?

Sometimes people at the top lose touch with the people running the business – meeting with customers, manufacturing.  Angela makes sure she is in the field, on the factory line – always engaging employees and learning about their concerns.

Get out where people make things, sell things. Nothing happens at a company until people sell things.  What are we doing to help sales people and manufacturing people?

Skills of the leader, skills of the team
A head of HR once told Angela,  “You will be judged as to how good of a leader you are – by whom you hire and whom you fire.”

Lots of leaders and managers cannot step up. The most satisfying aspect is to take someone who is not performing and make him or her perform.  But if that’s not possible, you have to be able to make crucial decisions.

How do we earn our seat?  We have our own value systems –we don’t all carry the same set.  You want your individual values to match the corporate values. What does the company value most and does that fit with what I value?

Treat employees well to serve your shareholders well.  You have to know how to ask those questions.  Big reasons why people fail – usually their values don’t align with where they are working, or they have not aligned other people.

Connection to and understanding of the business.  Surprisingly a lot of people don’t bother to do it – the more you can demonstrate you understand, the more leaders will respect.

Strong communication skills – this is not a throwaway.  Some people, communications professionals, send Angela letters and resumes with mistakes.  Read your work over.

Hardest one to measure – the ability to make magic.  The talent to put all the ingredients together.

What matters the most?
Three things:
*Masters of complexity – deep technical skills. People who can read between the lines, connect the dots – it’s hard to teach people how to do that.

*High impact leadership – sought for advice and counsel. Get out and see who is the natural leader.
Influences other people’s thinking

*Sense of urgency, but not reactionary

*Consistent results – day in, day out, year in, year out
Build a plan, work the plan
People are confident when they give you something to do.

Top three reasons communicators fail to realize their full potential:
*Skills not equivalent with scope of job – if job is too big, they can fail.  Can’t communicate strategy until you know business strategy. Develop relationships with internal customers and peers.
People get defensive and lose confidence
No “fingerprints”

*Good but not great is not good in a high performance company. What happens to people who are good but not great? They get eliminated.
They allow themselves to get in a comfort zone where they have inflated opinion of their work instead of trying to make the work better. Not viewed as a thought leader. Don’t look at big picture. Then tactical will outweigh the strategic – and this is the kiss of death.

*Good year, bad year – too inconsistent. Raise the bar.  Gets comfortable, doesn’t challenge.  Good becomes good enough.

Four ways you can take your seat and keep your seat.
*Gift of feedback
Ask for it – develop five sources for well-rounded picture of what it is you do well (and not so well).  Your boss, internal customers, one of your peers, external source, other team members.  Collect feedback as often as you like and compare. Be specific in how to get feedback.  Ask boss for respect, candor, sincerity, follow up.

*Calling your shot
Shows you are in control
Have risk orientation
Demonstrates self confidence
Requires clarity of purpose
Helps us measure your success
Takes luck out of play

*Break out of the pack
Results are the foundation
Good at everything
Great at something: Be the best at something, shape stories, create engagement, understanding company

You need purpose and you need passion!

Do you have a seat at the table?  And if you do, are you comfortable in it?

Link to PR Week Story to see what the ITT Chairman says about Angela:

More about Angela A. Buonocore
From the ITT Website (

Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer
Angela Buonocore is Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for ITT Corporation. In this role, she is a member of the company’s Strategic Council and is responsible for global brand and reputation management, public relations, employee communications, corporate advertising, community relations and corporate philanthropy.

She joined ITT in March 2007 from The Pepsi Bottling Group where she served as Vice President, Corporate Communications since 2001. In this role, she was responsible for the group’s public relations objectives and strategy, communication with the organization’s more than 60,000 employees and charitable initiatives. Prior to her 12-year career in the PepsiCo system, Buonocore spent 11 years with IBM and five years at General Electric Company in various internal and external communications roles.

Buonocore is a trustee of the Arthur W. Page Society and the Institute for Public Relations, and a member of the Wisemen and the Seminar, all organizations of senior corporate communications executives. In 2003, she was elected a member of the Accademia Europea per le Relazioni Econimiche e Culturali, a Rome-based organization that honors Italians and Italian-Americans who are leaders in their fields. In 2010, she was honored by the National Organization for Women’s New York City chapter as a Woman of Power and Influence.

Buonocore holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising with High Honors from the University of Florida and was honored as a Distinguished Alumna of the College of Journalism and Communications in May 2007.